Note: Enjoy this insightful guest post from Allison Gamble of PsychologyDegree.net.
In recent years, research has shown that the psychology and communication skills being taught in college courses are resulting in better marriages and a lower divorce rate. The overall divorce rate has declined to about 40 percent and the rate of divorce among college graduates is only 16 percent.
In fact, divorce rates have been slowly dropping since the seventies when psychologists developed rules for good communication between partners. These strategies for enhanced communication encouraged acceptance, honesty and appropriate methods of self-expression.
However, you don’t have to have a psychology degree or even take a psychology class to improve your marriage. All you have to know are the basic psychological causes of marital problems and then implement the appropriate communication styles to reason out your problems.
Develop Positive but Realistic Attitudes Toward Each Other
During the sixties, there was book called “I’m OK-You’re OK” that provided readers with relationship advice. While the book was helpful, the title itself is the golden rule of marriage. Both people in a marriage need to see themselves and their spouse as good people.
Thus each person needs be careful not to idealize their partner so much they can’t accept their partner’s humanity nor should they degrade the other person with false accusations. Finding a place of mutual acceptance can take time, but is rewarding once achieved.
Similarly, while everyone wishes things were great all the time, the reality is that something is bound to go wrong eventually. When this happens it is important for married couples not to try to establish fault.
Instead, they should concentrate their efforts on solving the problem. However, treating each other with respect, love and continued admiration can be difficult during stressful situations, especially if there are multiple external problems involving money, household repairs, in-laws and children. Yet no matter what happens, don’t let circumstances divide your marriage or undermine the team efforts between you and your spouse.
Create Positive Communication Experiences
The most important element in marriage is communication. There are all sorts of communication, and it is important to listen not only to words but also to the subtle and not so subtle forms of communication such as body language and tone of voice.
A lot of times people do not say what they mean at all. It isn’t that they are lying, they just may not want to admit when they are sad, troubled or even angry. Therefore, it is crucial that spouses pay attention to each other’s nonverbal messages so they are aware of when the other person is unhappy and can soften their speech and be careful not to injure the bruised emotions of the other person.
Finally, remember that timing is everything. Picking the right time to talk about something can make the difference between having one’s ideas well received and having them shot down. In general, wait for a person to get in the door and sit down for about 15 minutes before sharing bad news or introducing a new idea.
Ensure You Have a Balanced Lifestyle
Having balance is very important in life and in relationships. However, married couples often have different ideas of what balance is, which can lead to conflict.
While one partner feels like splitting household tasks is a fair division of chores, their spouse may feel overburdened. Similarly, while one person wants to relax all weekend after a long workweek, their partner may want to go out and do something fun and become frustrated when their other half does not.
The solution to this dilemma is compromise. Married couples must work together to ensure that each person feels respected and is still able to participate in activities they enjoy. This may mean each person will have to gradually adjust his or her schedule when necessary for better compatibility. However, adjusting to one another should be a fair trade. There is no reason why only one party should do all the adjusting.
Marriage can be very challenging. In fact, at times it can seem impossible, but the rewards are great for people who are willing to put in the effort.
Marriage can enrich life greatly if both parties are committed to each other, establish good for forms of communication and work to ensure their relationship is fair and balanced.